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Health and Safety Code 11368: Forging/Altering Drug Prescription Laws in California

HS 11368: Prescription Fraud

Legal Definition: Every person who forges or alters a prescription or who issues or utters an altered prescription, or who issues or utters a prescription bearing a forged or fictitious signature for any narcotic drug, or who obtains any narcotic drug by any forged, fictitious, or altered prescription, or who has in possession any narcotic drug secured by a forged, fictitious, or altered prescription…[is guilty].

To secure a conviction under HS 11368, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

  • 1a. The intentional forging or alteration of a prescription;
  • 1b. The act of providing a prescription with a forged or fictitious signature or an altered document to another individual;
  • 1c. The intention to use a prescription with a forged or fictitious signature to unlawfully obtain drugs;
  • The prescription in question must be for a narcotic drug;
  • Knowledge about the forged, fictitious, or altered nature of the signature on the prescription.

Rest assured that our team of experienced experts possesses the required authority and expertise to delve into this matter. You can trust in our dedication to upholding the law and seeking justice.

What does this mean?

In this section, individuals can potentially face legal prosecution for various offenses related to forged prescriptions and the acquisition of narcotic drugs. Such offenses are even more serious than the act of writing false prescriptions (as outlined in BP 4324) as they involve controlled substances. Examples of drugs commonly involved in these cases include opium, cocaine, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, among others.

One scenario could involve the theft of a doctor’s prescription pad, where an individual proceeds to write a fraudulent prescription for codeine. Another common occurrence is when an individual lawfully obtains a prescription for codeine but alters the numbers or dates to obtain a larger quantity than prescribed. It is also important to note that even acting as an intermediary, facilitating the acquisition or forgery of a prescription for someone else, can result in charges being pressed.

To clarify, the charges in such cases target individuals who write the fraudulent prescriptions, those who act as intermediaries (“middle person”) in the process, and those who use the forged prescriptions to obtain narcotics. It is crucial to establish knowledge of the false signature as an element to secure conviction. However, proving lack of knowledge regarding the fraudulent nature of the prescription can be challenging. It is also worth noting that possession of narcotics acquired through a forged prescription can also lead to charges. For such charges, it is necessary to establish that the individual knew the item in their possession was a narcotic drug, that it was usable, and that it originated from a fraudulent prescription that they were aware of.

Please note that a usable amount refers to any quantity of a narcotic drug that can be used for its intended purposes and is not contingent on the ability to induce a state of “highness”.

It is essential to consult legal professionals for accurate and specific advice in relation to your circumstances.

Penalties

A charge under HS 11368 is a wobbler offense, meaning you can be charged with this section as a misdemeanor as a felony offense, depending on your prior criminal history and the specific facts of your case. If you are convicted of this charge as a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to upwards of one year in County Jail. If you are convicted of this charge as a felony offense, you could be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 16 months, 2 or three years. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. If you have prior drug charges or drug arrests, you will likely be looking at a felony charge under this section. Also, if the amount that is forged is a very high amount, then you would also likely be charged with a felony version of this charge.This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you would face Deportation in Immigration Courtsince the offense is deportable, in that it is a crime involving drug use and lying/fraud, which is a crime of moral turpitude.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence

One crucial aspect of this charge involves your “knowledge.” Without knowledge that the prescription you possess has been altered or forged, there would be insufficient evidence to establish your guilt. However, the prosecution can establish your knowledge through what is known as circumstantial evidence. For instance, a prior conviction for this offense or a previous drug conviction involving the same prescribed drug, or even a past conviction related to Forgery under PC 470 or Perjury of an Affidavit under PC 118a, may be presented in court to indicate your likely involvement in this crime. It would be highly improbable, as the person who forges the prescription, to claim ignorance about its fraudulent nature when you are the one responsible for its creation.

Moreover, the evidence would be inadequate if you can demonstrate the doctor’s prescription was authentic. You can do this by presenting a statement from your doctor, testimonies from office workers or others who witnessed the doctor writing the prescription, which proves it was not forged by you or any third party. Additionally, if law enforcement acquired the drugs or prescription through an illegal search and seizure, your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney can argue for the exclusion of such evidence, leading to the dismissal of your case.

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Facing criminal charges, especially those related to drug offenses like HS 11368, can cast a shadow over one’s future. The repercussions of a conviction are multifaceted, affecting not only one’s personal freedom but also future prospects, professional endeavors, and social standing.

At Inland Empire Defense, we understand the magnitude of such charges and the anxiety they bring. Our team of seasoned attorneys, with their vast experience and depth of knowledge, has dedicated themselves to the rigorous defense of individuals ensnared by drug-related accusations. Each case is unique, and our approach is tailored to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Regardless of the circumstances leading to the charge, we believe in ensuring that every individual’s rights are upheld. Our track record speaks for itself – we’ve successfully navigated the complexities of the legal system time and again on behalf of our clients.

Should you find yourself confronting the daunting challenge of a criminal charge, don’t face it alone. Avail yourself of our expertise. We offer a free initial consultation to provide insight into your situation. Reach out to us at 909-939-7126. Centrally located in Ontario, we are here to support, guide, and fiercely defend you. Every step of the way.

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Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

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Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting avvo.com to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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